My supply of faith has been running low for the last five years, although I have not completely turned into a hard-core pessimist. It just comes in dribs and drabs, but is usually mingled with a high dose of scepticism. Events and people have undermined that faith I know I possessed years ago. There were the numerous incidents of failed friendships: “true” friends showing their true colours as fair-weather friends or careerists using me as an unwitting pawn in their career game. One “friend” just completely severed ties via e-mail one fine day for some reason that I cannot fathom to this day. I think she said it was because I was close with my family – go figure. Another – one of the three I met in Singapore – was a social climber and crossed me off from her list of friends because I was not like her, a sycophantic fool who uses her feminine assets – she was flat as an ironing board but brimming with gumption. The other two were simply oddballs – one turned against me because I had began dating someone while the other was just, well, unhinged. The biggest faith-drainer was when the one I considered my best bud, Charles, wasn’t who I thought he was. To say the least, he wasn’t there when I expected him to be while I was always there for him. It was one lopsided affair.
Professional relationships were tenuous because bosses played the favouritism game. I could never be part of it because eligibility was based on a lighter skin colour and a high degree of obsequiousness. One former boss was a descendant of Janus: a mewling kitten before the bigger boss but foul-mouthed and conniving before us. Outside of work, business dealings were an intermittent battle with prejudices about Filipinos dovetailed with plain rudeness. It really is quite trying to be in a sea of grouches and killjoys, and have faith in them being a little more forthcoming.
Faith also took a hit when I’d see how people maltreated cats and dogs (it still does to this day) because, in the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, “compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.” A person of good character should easily see the helplessness of such creatures and that their behavior is a reaction to how they were treated.
Moving out of my personal space, how can one not lose faith when, for instance, elected Philippine officials play the entitlement card when they break the rules? Or the rampant manipulation of public funds for personal gain by, again, elected Philippine officials who act like victims of gross injustice when their depravity is brought to light? Whatever happened to genuinely and sincerely serving the people they vowed to do good by? They are subverting the faith in the government with their constant lying and endless charades. Add to that the wars, vast disparity between the rich and poor, famine, genital mutilation, and the list goes on.
But the lack of faith, like hope, makes for a drab life and a drab life is, sadly, akin to being lifeless while still walking the world. This epiphanic moment came unexpectedly when I chanced upon my FB news-feeds that slowly stoked the dying embers of my faith to life. An FB friend shared a plea for donations for poor Ariel, a cat that was badly injured (bleeding and with broken legs and jaw), and several Samaritans had already added to the growing Ariel fund. Another was a fund-raising activity for another cat, Fluffy, and donations were coming in. My gal-pal Fistri made donations on my behalf to the kitty funds then we got to chatting about the world.
“I hope who caused Ariel’s injuries is meted out his/her punishment,” I typed on FB messenger.
“Let’s not pray for that. Let’s pray one day he realizes it is wrong. Violence shouldn’t beget violence,” Fistri wrote back.
“But I am happy that Arial pulled through. He was pretty messed up when he was brought to the vet. I thought the worse when I didn’t see any update.”
“Nah, always have faith,” she said. “I know the world is messed up big time now, but if you have faith it’ll all turn up good. It will.”
Fistri’s words were like an arrow of flame that shot through the air and ignited my embers of faith. She is right. Where would the world be if faith vanished completely? That is the key to living, to life: having and keeping the faith amidst the global pandemonium, the evil lurking around, false friends, corruption, prejudiced thinking, etc. As Bon Jovi sang, “…Lord, you got to keep the faith…faith – don’t let your love turn to hate…right now we got to keep the faith.”